Balsa River Rafting Beginner Class 3 Rapids 5-Hour Trip with Lunch

The Balsa River is an absolute gem of a river rafting trip, offering a fun, family-friendly experience on Class 2 and 3 rapids rich in natural beauty. Our 11 km long rafting trip departs daily from your La Fortuna accommodation, promising a fun time on the water. The Balsa River rafting trip is perfect for first-time rafters ages 8 to 108. No prior rafting experience or swimming skills are required. Join us on the Balsa River for a day filled with fun whitewater surrounded by majestic jungles teeming with wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and toucans.

Our boutique rafting company specializes in crafting premium experiences for small groups of no more than 16 rafters. Our Standard Trip is designed to reflect this commitment to quality. For an even more exclusive adventure consider booking a Private Trip tailored to your group of four or more.

Our shuttle vehicle will pick you up at 10:00 AM with an approximate return time of 3:00 PM. Our Balsa River trip includes a fruit stop riverside and many wildlife viewing opportunities, especially on the journey’s second half. A traditional Costa Rican lunch and beverages will be served after the trip. Our rafting trips are unmatched and are operated with our client’s safety and comfort as a priority.

Our river guides have a wealth of experience and are trained in river safety and emergency medicine. They are fluent in English and highly interpretive with the local flora and fauna, and will provide you with a fantastic river experience. All our rafting equipment is top-of-the-line imported from the US, and we carry extensive First Aid Kits, including AEDs, as well as extensive communications equipment on all our trips. From our guides to our safety equipment, our trips offer the highest standard of rafting in Costa Rica.

The Balsa River is conveniently located less than an hour’s drive from La Fortuna, making it easily accessible from popular tourist destinations in the Arenal Region. If you’re seeking adventure and natural beauty, rafting the Balsa River is the perfect choice for your Costa Rica vacation.

The Rapids on the Balsa River

The Balsa River is dam-controlled and is renowned for its relatively continuous Class 2 and 3 rapids, providing an exciting yet safe adventure for all skill levels. The majority of the the bigger rapids are encountered in the first hour. The rapids on the Balsa river are fun, splashy and technical, requiring participants to paddle on the guide’s command in order to navigate their raft down the river. The Balsa River has roughly 25 rapids, mostly concentrated in the first half of the trip. The trip starts with El Bambo, a Class 3 rapid translated in English as “Bamboo Tree.” Canitas quickly approaches another Class 3 named “Sugar Cane”. Rapid Las Dragas, the biggest and most difficult rapid on the trip, is a Class 3 beauty. Further downstream, you’ll encounter “Diana’s Wall,” a fun Class 2/3 rapid. These rapids offer thrills and excitement, ensuring a memorable journey for beginners and experienced rafters alike.

Scenery and Wildlife

As you travel down the river, you’ll be surrounded by the captivating beauty of Costa Rica’s lush rainforests, pristine waterfalls, and a rich tapestry of exotic flora. There is a beautiful section on the lower half of the trip called El Bosquecito, affectionately known as the “Little Forest.” This segment will immerse you in a lush natural environment. The dense foliage and vibrant flora along the riverbanks intimately connect you with Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for the abundance of wildlife that calls this area home. Bird enthusiasts will delight in the toucans, kingfishers, and herons as they dart and soar along the riverbanks. Howler monkeys might greet you with their distinctive calls from the treetops, and you might even be lucky enough to spot the elusive, slow-moving sloth hanging lazily from the branches overhead. The Balsa River provides an immersive experience in nature, making each twist and turn a photographic moment.

Pit Stops

During the journey down the Balsa, we’ll make planned stops, allowing you to soak in the surroundings, look for wildlife, enjoy a refreshing swim, and explore the vibrant ecosystem that thrives along the riverbanks. There will also be opportunities to learn more about Costa Rica and its natural beauties, allowing for rest before continuing on to further rapids. These breaks are your chance to connect with nature, capture the essence of Costa Rica, enjoy a fruit snack, and catch your breath before the next piece of the journey.

Preparing for the Trip

Staying hydrated and wearing suitable clothing is essential to ensure comfort during your rafting trip on the Balsa River. Costa Rica is located right along the equator, so the sun will be hot, and the sunburn will be more intense than areas to the north or south. Bringing sunscreen and protective clothing like hats and long-sleeved shirts will protect your skin. A large water bottle will keep you hydrated on your adventure. Before embarking on your rafting adventure, make sure to bring essentials such as:

Wear Swimwear or a T-shirt and Shorts: Leave your accommodation ready to go rafting and bring a change of dry clothes. There are toilets at the start, and at the end of the trip there are showers and changing rooms. We will provide you with a clean microfiber towel to dry off after you shower or before you change into dry clothes.

Shoes or Sports Sandals: Footwear that will stay on your feet is essential for an enjoyable rafting experience. Please do not wear flip-flops as these tend to break or get lost.

Sunscreen and Hats: Sunscreen should be applied before the trip and before getting on the raft. If you are prone to getting burned, we suggest bringing sunscreen on the boat. Each boat has a mesh bag for loose items like sunscreen and water bottles. DO NOT apply sunscreen on your forehead or the back of your bottom. Splashes of water to your face are regular, and sunscreen will wash into your eyes and burn leading to a not so enjoyable experience. Sunscreen on your bum bum will cause a slippery situation between your butt and the boat, leading to a guaranteed out-of-boat experience 🙂

Reusable Water Bottle: We carry potable water in our shuttle vehicle and encourage you to use a water bottle you can fill up rather than a single-use plastic bottle. Refreshments will be provided at the end of the trip.

What’s Provided

Your safety and enjoyment during your rafting trip with us are paramount. Transportation via shuttle will be provided to and from your La Fortuna accommodation. Each raft will have a highly experiences, charismatic, charming, good-looking, medically trained guide to keep you safe and entertained throughout your trip. Rafting equipment such as lifejackets, helmets, and paddles will be provided at the river before you get on the water. A fruit snack will be served along the river, and a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch will be served at the end of the trip. Clean microfiber towels will be provided at the end of the trip for you to dry off. Refreshments will be provided after the trip for the shuttle back. Most importantly, memories to last a lifetime.

Are you ready to experience a Costa Rican river adventure of a lifetime? Book your Balsa River rafting trip today with us and create unforgettable memories in the heart of Costa Rica.


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